American Revolution and the Constitution - Jennifer Edgar

  • Battle of Lexington and Concord

    Battle of Lexington and Concord
    Known as the "shot heard 'round the world," the Battle of Lexington and Concord was the first official battle of the American Revolution. General Thomas Gage, military governor of Massachusetts, dispatched soldiers to capture colonial leaders and supplies at Concord, but Paul Revere warned Patriots about General Gage's plan. Colonial militiamen gathered, fail to stop the British at Lexington, but amassed and drove the British back to Boston from Concord.
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    Revolutionary Period

    The Revolutionary Period included the American Revolution (or the war with Great Britain) as well as the establishment of a republican government with the Constitution of 1787.
  • Second Continental Congress

    Second Continental Congress
    Patriot leaders met in Philadelphia and created the Continental Army, appointing George Washington to be the head of the army. In the Congress, most still wanted reconciliation with Great Britain, at least at first. However, as conflict and tension grew, the colonists recognized the need to respond and they eventually wrote the Declaration of Independence.
  • George Washington Named Commander in Chief

    George Washington Named Commander in Chief
    John Adams nominated George Washington to lead the newly formed Continental Army during the Second Continental Congress, and his nomination was approved. Washington was not present at the Congress, but he had officially been appointed as the head of the Continental Army. His experience in the French and Indian War would serve him well in his leadership.
  • Battle of Bunker Hill

    Battle of Bunker Hill
    The Battle of Bunker Hill was the first face-to-face battle, where British troops attacked American fortifications on Breed's Hill and Bunker Hill. Colonists were told to wait to fire until they could see the whites of the eyes of the British soldiers, and this strategy worked well for the colonists. In fact, the colonists were extremely successful by fighting on their own terms, but lost the battle because they ran out of ammunition.
  • Common Sense

    Common Sense
    Written and published by Thomas Paine, Common Sense was a pamphlet that called for independence and a new, republican form of government. The pamphlet was directed at the colonists in America to push them towards independence and criticized Britain's monarchy and government in general. Paine was very successful, and his pamphlet convinced many colonists of the need to separate from Britain.
  • Virginia Declaration of Rights

    Virginia Declaration of Rights
    Written by George Mason, the Virginia Declaration of Rights heavily influenced the Declaration of Independence adopted by Congress in 1776. The Virginia Declaration of Rights molded John Locke's ideas of natural rights - the right to life, liberty, and property - into a foundation for Virginian's own rights.
  • Congress Adopts the Declaration of Indeoendence

    Congress Adopts the Declaration of Indeoendence
    Written by Thomas Jefferson, the Declaration of Independence stated the beliefs of the colonists, listed actions the king took against the colonists, and declared that the colonies would separate from Great Britain. The colonists beliefs revolved around John Locke's idea of natural rights - the right to life, liberty, and property - and the violation of natural rights justified the creation of a new government.
  • Battle of Long Island/ Battle of Brooklyn

    Battle of Long Island/ Battle of Brooklyn
    Lord North ordered General Howe to capture New York City and seize control of the Hudson, which would allow them to cut-off New England from the rest of the colonies. General Howe defeated George Washington, and Washington retreated to Manhattan Island, where the Americans were almost completely surrounded. However, Washington retreated across the Hudson to New Jersey during the night, and was later pushed back to Valley Forge in Pennsylvania by General Howe.
  • Pennsylvania Constitution of 1776

    Pennsylvania Constitution of 1776
    The Pennsylvania Constitution of 1776 had a strong democratic basis and created a unicameral (or one-house) legislature without having a governor to veto laws passed by the legislature. The constitution alarmed some Patriots, who believed in the need to disperse authority. This constitution led to John Adams' Thoughts on Government.
  • Battles of Trenton

    Battles of Trenton
    At the time, it was normal to refrain from fighting during the winter, and Washington knew he couldn't win if he fought on British terms, so Washington decided to cross the Delaware and surprise the British. By surprising the British and attacking when the British troops were unprepared, Washington was able to defeat the British at Trenton, capturing 1,000 Hessian soldiers. Then, on January 3, 1777, Washington defeated the British again at Princeton, restoring confidence in the American troops.
  • Fort Ticonderoga

    Fort Ticonderoga
    General John Burgoyne's troops defeated American defenses at Fort Ticonderoga. St. Clair surrendered the fort to the British.
  • Occupation of Philadelphia

    Occupation of Philadelphia
    General Howe decides attack Philadelphia instead of following Lord North and Lord George Germain' plan to attack Albany, New York. Philadelphia was the home of the Continental Congress, so taking Philadelphia would mean taking the headquarters for the planners of the rebellion. Instead of attacking from the north, General Howe attacked from the south and succeeded in capturing Philadelphia, although he did not succeed in putting out the rebellion.
  • American Victory at Saratoga

    American Victory at Saratoga
    General Burgoyne moved slowly towards Albany, New York, but didn't realize that no reinforcements were coming from General Howe. His troops became stuck at Saratoga with little food and a lack of horses. After a series of skirmishes with the Patriots, General Burgoyne surrendered at Saratoga, a turning point in the war that would convince the French to ally with the Americans.
  • Valley Forge

    Valley Forge
    Washington led his troops to Valley Forge as a place to stay for the winter, but disease and starvation killed many of the troops, many deserted, and several officers resigned. Baron von Steuben helped the army become tougher and better-disciplined.There were few supplies and the winter was rough, lowering the morale of the troops, and Valley Forge was Washington's 'low-point'.
  • Treaty of Alliance

    Treaty of Alliance
    After the Americans won at Saratoga, France was convinced that supporting the Americans meant they would be backing a winner. In the Treaty of Alliance, France agreed to support the United States under the condition that the Continental Congress would recognize any French conquests in the West Indies.
  • Howe Replaced by Clinton

    Howe Replaced by Clinton
    General Howe resigned and went back to Britain because he felt like he was a failure after being unable to put a stop to the rebellion. Next in line for the position of general was Sir Henry Clinton, who was governor at the time.
  • Occupation of Savannah

    Occupation of Savannah
    Clinton launched an attack by sea on Savannah, Georgia, as part of the new southern campaign. Clinton reasons that if he can take Savannah, he can push northwards, and he succeeds in capturing Savannah.
  • Britain's Southern Strategy

    Britain's Southern Strategy
    The British government decided to revise its strategy to defend the West Indies and to capture Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia, which produced tobacco and rice. By controlling the south, the British could control the areas that grew wheat to support both Americans and the British.
  • Spain declares war on Great Britain

    Spain declares war on Great Britain
    Spain chooses to ally itself with the French and the Americans in exchange for claims to Florida as well as for the chance to reclaim the fortress of Gibraltar at the entrance to the Mediterannean Sea.
  • Philipsburg Proclamation

    Philipsburg Proclamation
    The Philipsburg Proclamation granted freedom to any slave who abandoned their rebel master. The slaves were promised protection, freedom, and land from Great Britain and led 30,000 slaves to take refuge with the British.
  • Charleston Captured

    Charleston Captured
    Clinton continued with the southern campaign and forced the surrender of Charleston in South Carolina. Then Cornwallis assumed control.
  • Cornwallis Assumes Control of British Forces

    Cornwallis Assumes Control of British Forces
    Clinton departed for New York on June 8, leaving Cornwallis in command of the British forces.
  • French Troops Arrive at Rhode Island

    French Troops Arrive at Rhode Island
    The Marquis de Lafayette convinces King Louis XVI to send troops to the mainland, so 6,000 soldiers were sent to Rhode Island. The proximity and arrival of the French scare the British.
  • Battle of King's Mountain

    Battle of King's Mountain
    Patriot militia defeated a Loyalist regiment at King's Mountain in South Carolina. About 1,000 prisoners were taken, and this victory helped lead to Cornwallis' surrender at Yorktown.
  • Nathanael Greene named commander of the Southern Army

    Nathanael Greene named commander of the Southern Army
    Washington named Nathanael Greene as commander of the Southern Army with the objective of recapturing the Carolinas from the British.
  • Battle of Cowpens

    Battle of Cowpens
    Led by General Daniel Morgan, an American force defeated the British at Cowpens in South Carolina. This victory helped lead to Cornwallis' surrender at Yorktown.
  • Articles of Confederation Adopted

    Articles of Confederation Adopted
    The Articles of Confederation created a loose union between independent states and laid the foundation for the Constitution of 1787. To approve laws, nine of the thirteen states had to agree, but to change the Articles, all of the states had to agree. The Articles were approved by the Continental Congress in 1777, but weren't ratified until 1781 because of western land disputes.
  • Battle of Guilford Courthouse

    Battle of Guilford Courthouse
    General Greene fought Cornwallis at the Guilford Courthouse in North Carolina, but both sides came to a draw. This battle led up to Cornwallis' surrender at Yorktown.
  • British naval force driven out of Chesapeake Bay

    British naval force driven out of Chesapeake Bay
    The French fleet drove the British naval force out of the Chesapeake Bay, sealing Cornwallis' fate at Yorktown. There was no escape for Cornwallis, causing him to surrender.
  • Yorktown

    Yorktown
    Cornwallis was surrounded by American and French forces with no way out of Yorktown, leaving him no choice but to surrender. His surrender broke the resolve of the British government, leading to the official end of the American Revolution.
  • Lord North Resigns

    Lord North Resigns
    Lord North was embarassed at having lost the American Revolution and resigned from his post as British Prime Minister.
  • Treaty of Paris of 1783

    Treaty of Paris of 1783
    The Treaty of Paris (1783) ended the war between Americans and the British. Britain recognized American independence and relinquished claims to lands south of the Great Lakes and east of the Mississippi River. In returm, British merchants were allowed to pursue legal claims for prewar debts.
  • Treaty of Versailles of 1783

    Treaty of Versailles of 1783
    The Treaty of Versailles (1783) ended the war for all countries involved, including Spain and France. Spain reclaimed Florida, and France received the island of Tobago.
  • Washington Resigns as Commander

    Washington Resigns as Commander
    The war with Britain had ended, so George Washington no longer needed to lead the Continental Army. Washington decided to resign as commander.
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    Shay's Rebellion

    Shay's Rebellion was a revolt by farmers against taxes imposed by an unresponsive government, similar to American resistance of the British Stamp Act. The rebellion demonstrated that some Patriots felt American oppressors were just as bad as the British tyrants they overthrew.
  • Virginia Plan written by James Madison

    Virginia Plan written by James Madison
    The Virginia Plan favored a supreme national authority over state sovereignty, established by the people with laws applying directly to citizens, with a three-tier election system. Unfortunately, most state politicians and citizens rejected the idea of allowing the national government to veto state laws and the basis of the lower house on population meant that smaller states wouldn't stand a chance against larger states. However, the Virginia Plan still ended up as the basis for discussion.
  • New Jersey Plan written by William Paterson

    New Jersey Plan written by William Paterson
    The New Jersey Plan was created because smaller states didn't agree with representation based on population in the Virginia Plan. The New Jersey Plan would give the Confederation power to raise revenue, control trade, and make requisitions on the states, but the states controlled their own laws and each state got one vote in a single house.
  • Northwest Ordinance

    Northwest Ordinance
    The Northwest Ordinance created territories that would later become the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin, while banning slavery in these territories and setting aside funds to support schools. The ordinance provided a plan for the admission of new states.
  • U.S. Constitution Signed

    U.S. Constitution Signed
    The Constitution of 1787 had been negotiated since May and was finally signed by all but three delegates in September. The fact that nearly all of the delegates signed demonstrates the strength of the document.
  • Federalist Papers written by James Madison, John Jay, and Alexander Hamilton

    Federalist Papers written by James Madison, John Jay, and Alexander Hamilton
    The Federalist Papers were a series of 85 essays. The essays denied that centralized government would lead to something terrible like tyranny, emphasizing the system of checks and balances with divided authority.
  • "Federalist No. 10" written by James Madison

    "Federalist No. 10" written by James Madison
    "Federalist No. 10" stated that republican governments would be protected in a large state, not destroyed. By having a larger state, no one faction could become too dominant and oppress the others.
  • U.S. Constitution Ratification and Adoption

    U.S. Constitution Ratification and Adoption
    The U.S. Constitution, which strengthened the national government, had to be ratified by at least nine of the thirteen states in order to take effect. After Federalists, who supported the Constitution, assured Antifederalists that a bill of rights would be created, New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the Constitution on June 21, 1788. It was then agreed that the new government would begin on March 4, 1789.